By Erich Wagner and Susan Hale Thomas (File photo)
After 12 years in politics, state Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-45) will retire from public service to focus on his new doughnut business and his family, he announced in a statement Monday afternoon.
“Between business, family, and public service, it is clear that I’m burning more candles at more ends than I can sustain,” Krupicka said in a statement.
Krupicka began his political career when he was elected to city council in 2003 where he served for nine years. Then-Gov. Tim Kaine selected Krupicka to serve on the Virginia Board of Education in 2009.
In 2012, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in a special election held after the resignation of Delegate David Englin, and has served in Richmond for three years. Krupicka did not return calls for comment.
In January, Krupicka opened Sugar Shack Donuts, a handmade doughnut shop at 804 N. Henry St., an area that has seen a surge in redevelopment. In addition to serving doughnuts, he plans to open a speakeasy-style bar called Captain Gregory’s that connects to the doughnut shop.
Mayor Bill Euille said he hadn’t yet had a chance to talk to Krupicka since his announcement Monday but the mayor wished him well.
“I’m certainly saddened to see Rob go after three years representing the 45th district and having served on city council,” Euille said. “Rob has done a great job. I’m certain it was a tough decision for him but he’s got a new business and his family. Priorities come first.”
Former state Sen. Patsy Ticer said she was shocked to hear the news Monday. She and Krupicka have been friends since he worked on one of her campaigns many years ago, and she described him as an effective advocate for the city.
“He’s an old buddy, as young as he is,” she said. “He’s always been very supportive … so I’m sad to hear that, but I wish him well on his doughnut venture. I just hope he doesn’t get fat, although I don’t think there’s much chance of that.”
City Councilor Tim Lovain said it was remarkable what Krupicka has been able to accomplish, given his status as a Democrat in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates.
“He has creative ideas and persistence and a gift for bringing people together and working to get things done, so I think he’s made the most of it,” Lovain said. “With his expertise with issues like education, he’s made an especially strong impact. The whole of Alexandria benefited from his speaking truth to power on those issues.
“As a Democrat in the House, it’s easy to be sort of lost in oblivion, so it takes a special kind of gift to make a mark. And he’s made a mark.”
Krupicka spearheaded the fight against former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Opportunity Educational Institution, a controversial state agency tasked with taking control of struggling schools until it was ruled unconstitutional last year. And he was a persistent advocate for local education funding, from restoring funding to teacher salary subsidies for northern Virginia to early childhood education.
Rumors have flourished in the immediate aftermath of the news about who might try to fill the new void. But with the filing deadline just around the corner — March 26 — many people are struggling to organize both their personal lives or campaign infrastructure.
“It’s especially tricky because, unlike city council or the school board, which you can kind of do part time, you basically have to set aside all of your other work for several months of the year,” Lovain said. “I know I have the kind of job that I couldn’t just put it aside for a couple months at a time. … There was some joshing about it yesterday [by councilors] but I don’t think anyone on the council is really looking at it.”
Alexandria Democratic Committee chairman Clarence Tong said he is considering a run, and said he has recused himself from the nominating committee for the seat. Other names that have been the subject of rampant speculation are Julie Jakopic, a local management consultant, politico and friend of Krupicka, and Carrie Ann Alford, the legislative aide to state Sen. Toddy Puller, who lives in the Fairfax County portion of the district.
Neither Jakopic nor Alford were immediately available for comment.
Friend and City Councilor Justin Wilson said he believes Krupicka’s service to the community will be ongoing.
“Rob is a good friend and a conscientious public servant,” Wilson said. “All around our city, and particularly in our classrooms, there is evidence of the results of his labor. Our city and our commonwealth are better off for his service, and I have every confidence that service will continue out of elected office.”